Balancing relationships and intellectual rigour in research for government agencies

Document Type

Book Chapter



Place of Publication

Milton Park, UK


Timmer, K.


School of Education




Originally published as: Gower, G., & Partington, G. (2016). Balancing relationships and intellectual rigour in research for government agencies. In K. Trimmer (Ed). Political pressures on educational and social research: International perspectives. (pp. 136-149). Milton Park, UK: Routledge. Available here.


The drive to justify programs in the public sector has resulted in a growing desire by many organisations involved in education, social services, health and welfare to seek evidence of the outcomes that result from these programs. Pressure from governments for accountability of expenditure in these areas grew as the available resources to pay for them came under pressure in recent decades (Perry & McWilliam, 2007; Staley, 2008; Mundine, 2014; Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2014).

This search for quality can be due to a desire for information on the effectiveness of an innovation, including the identification of effective practices or practices that need improvement, but perhaps also to ensure there is clarity and consensus regarding the purpose of a program or to prove a program is of value to bodies funding it (Strengthening Non-profits, 2015). In all these cases, measurement of the outcomes of projects provides the data on which decisions can be made - whether it is to acknowledge success, revise for future practice, to terminate or to justify expenditure. For the writiers of this chapter, outcomes-bases decision-making was central to their research.